Public Poetry

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Featuring Visual Art Professor Tanya Hartman

Poet Adrienne Rich defines the true nature of poetry as, “the drive to connect, the dream of a common language.” This public workshop will explore themes common to all human beings, yet framed within the intricacies of cultural nuance and implication. The ultimate outcome of the workshop will be the creation of a unity poem; verse that unites all participants across cultural and racial divides. In order to achieve this, participants will be given a list of questions to answer that are common and almost mundane such as “describe the contents of your refrigerator” “what is the first sound that you heard this morning when you awoke?” “Have you ever been brave?” “have you ever been cowardly?” “ describe the smell of a person you love” “describe your first pair of shoes.” The answers to the questions will be anonymous and will be used as the basis for the creation of a poem, yet surprisingly each participant will use answers that they did not generate. Thus, the raw language of another human being will become the basis for an original poem written in their honor, by a stranger. The final phase of the workshop will be the weaving together of all poems to create one unity poem. The text of the poem will then be made into an embroidered scroll, to be displayed in social service agencies that serve the needs of recent immigrants to the region. The workshop will take place at Jewish Vocational Services in Kansas City, MO, an organization that serves the area’s large Somali community and other recent African immigrants.


Tanya Hartman
Tanya Hartman

Tanya Hartman teaches painting and drawing as an Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Art. Her work is about family upheaval, memory, and its translation into words. Hartman attempts to bridge the gap between what is perceived as a book and what is perceived as a piece of visual art. She fuses prose that is narrative with images that are visual to create an entity that is simultaneously a story and an image yet not purely either of the two. She brings the expansive possibilities inherent in oil painting together with less traditional techniques such as stenciling, stitching and stippling to create her own artistic sense of place.

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